C. N. Waters, 2011. "Introduction and scope of report", A Revised Correlation of Carboniferous Rocks in the British Isles, C. N. Waters, I. D. Somerville, N. S. Jones, C. J. Cleal, J. D. Collinson, R. A. Waters, B. M. Besly, M. T. Dean, M. H. Stephenson, J. R. Davies, E. C. Freshney, D. I. Jackson, W. I. Mitchell, J. H. Powell, W. J. Barclay, M. A. E. Browne, B. E. Leveridge, S. L. Long, D. McLean
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The succession of the Carboniferous System is questionably the most intensively studied part of the geological column in Britain and Ireland, and developments in this region continue to have implications on international correlation. The system is also probably the most geographically widespread, present at outcrop over much of the Midland Valley of Scotland, northern and central England, North and South Wales, SW England and much of Ireland. Significant areas of Carboniferous strata have also been identified at depth in eastern and southern England and in offshore areas of the North Sea and Irish Sea.
The initial driver for investigations was the economic importance of Carboniferous strata, with the presence of large volumes of coal, sandstone, limestone, brick clay and ironstone helping to fuel the Industrial Revolution. Much of this early work occurred long before guidance was available for best-practice in naming lithostratigraphical units. Consequently, a haphazard approach to the establishment of the hierarchy of units resulted, with numerous local nomenclatures ensuing. To a certain extent, this complexity in nomenclature hindered the regional understanding of the Carboniferous successions in Great Britain. However, during the early part of the 20th century significant developments in biostratigraphy started to allow the widespread correlation of units, not previously possible. By the time of the publication of the two Geological Society Special Reports, for the Dinantian (George et al. 1976) and Silesian (Ramsbottom et al. 1978) the biostratigraphical framework was well established and both publications were instrumental in establishing and promoting a new chronostratigraphical nomenclature upon which the current system is based.
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The report revises and expands upon the 1976 and 1978 publications for the Dinantian and Silesian, respectively, combining them into a single account of British and Irish Carboniferous stratigraphy. The need to update the two Special Reports reflects the considerable advances in Carboniferous geology over the last 30 years. The report covers developments in international chronostratigraphy and incorporates wholesale reassessments of British lithostratigraphy. A huge volume of biostratigraphical information has been published over recent decades and the report summarizes the key information.
Carboniferous rocks have long been of economic importance, but it is the search for hydrocarbons, in its infancy at the time of the previous reports, which has greatly increased our understanding of Carboniferous successions offshore and at depth, particularly in southern and eastern England.